Tag Archives: jacobites

Lord Mungo’s Irish Counterpart

Many of us in colgaffneyis know about John Michael Wright’s portrait, from c. 1680, of the young Highland aristocrat Lord Mungo Murray. I recently learned that the same artist also did a portrait of an Irish Jacobite nobleman, Sir Neil O’Neill, 2nd Baronet of Killeleagh.

There are some interesting points about this:

  1. Sir Neil is wearing trews, traditional dress known in both Ireland and the Scottish Highlands, but scorned by the establishments in London and Dublin. Similarly Lord Mungo is shown in a belted plaid, Highland dress that would have been considered barbaric in Edinburgh. It may not be a coincidence that the artist, like Sir Neil, was a Catholic. Perhaps this was a protest against the Protestant establishments that ruled England, Scotland, and Ireland.
  2. He is armed with traditional weapons, a shield (larger than a Highland targe) and a javelin (his servant in the background has some spares). These weapons were of course long obsolete: The Irish had been effectively using firearms for about a century. Their appearance here seems to be symbolic, showing that he is really an Irish nobleman.
  3. The doublet is very similar to Lord Mungo’s. Either it was quite the fashion in some quarters, or the artist really liked it.
  4. At his feet is an incomplete suit of Japanese(!) armor.